“Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Matthew 9.35).
During Jesus' earthly ministry, He served an area 40 miles wide and 70 miles long that had 200 cities and villages, with the minimum population of a village being 15,000. Jesus was ministering to approximately 3 million people during this time.
Jesus was busy! My “getting busy” creates pressure to rush past people and get annoyed at slow traffic and long lines. Jesus is the opposite.
“When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9.36).
Judea was a land of flocks and herds. Day and night, a shepherd watched his flock, defended them, led them to green pastures and beside still waters.
Without his care, they would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun and knew not where to find cool shade and stream. So, said Jesus, is it with His people.
“We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him” (Isaiah 53:6).
Jesus felt compassion because He saw them distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd and vulnerable to be devoured at any time.
The definition of “distressed” is harassed or molested. The definition of “downcast” is pinned down by force. Jesus was moved to save those molested and violently pinned down by a wicked molesting killer.
We walk through life surrounded by people who are without Jesus and need freedom. Statistically, one out of three people are in crisis. God's objective in our lives is that His love fills and possesses us to give.
“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
The love of God compels us to see people through His eyes of compassion. We can give away His love because we’re made of the stuff.
Pastor Andy Spurlin serves at Restoration Christian Church in Park Rapids.